Turning its focus to the avant-garde, IU Theatre presents Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal. A flagship of American Expressionist theatre, Machinal depicts the 1920s as a time when women were systematically marginalized and viewed as property or playthings. This shocking and surreal drama is a startling condemnation of the confinement of women in a world controlled by men.
Sophie Treadwell was an American reporter and playwright. Among Treadwell’s many journalistic assignments was the murder trial of Ruth Snyder, who with the help of her lover, Judd Gray, murdered her husband. Loosely based on Snyder’s sensationalized story, Machinal tells the story of a young woman imprisoned in a dark, machine-like world filled with disturbing relationships and dangerous aggressors.
Second-year MFA director James Nelson says “Machinal is about an overwhelmingly patriarchal society where women have no voice and no agency…These themes are still fiercely present today, especially in our current political climate. Because Machinal distorts, fragments, and theatricalizes the reality of its world, the parallels to our world are that much more identifiable,” says Nelson. “I wanted to direct Machinal because it scares me. Its subject matter and dramatic execution of themes are unapologetic, unnerving, and viscerally impactful. The Expressionist style is a playground of creative opportunity for the actors and design team, but it requires a strong hand in direction…It’s a haunting play, and it’s one that stays with you once you’ve experienced it.”
With largely black, white, and grayscale design, the Machinal creative team had to make a case for each time they wanted to use color. The production team includes Jeremy Smith (Scenic Designer), Justin Gannaway (Costume Designer), Darrian Brimberry (Lighting Designer), Tony Stoeri (Sound Designer), Chip Davis (Technical Director).
The cast of Machinal includes four IU MFA actors. Third-year MFA actress Abby Lee (Hedda Gabler, Macbeth, Berserker, Three Sisters, The Tempest, and Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike) in the role of the Young Woman, will be joined in her final production by first-year MFA students Ellise Chase, Jay Hemphill (Peter and the Starcatcher) and Glynnis Kunkel-Ruiz (The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui). The ensemble cast also includes eight undergraduate students: Caleb Curtis (Peter and the Starcatcher), Berklea Going (Noises Off), Reid Henry (Three Sisters), Kaleigh Howland (The Duchess of Malfi), Nathaniel Kohlmeier (The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui), Felix Merback (The Duchess of Malfi), Jared Smith (The Tempest), Joshua Smith (Prospect Hill), and Connor Starks (Peter and the Starcatcher).
WHAT: IU Theatre presents Machinal by Sophie Treadwell.
WHEN: February 23, 24, 27, 28 and March 1, 2, 3 at 7:30 PM and March 3 @ 2:00 PM
WHERE: Wells-Metz Theatre, Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave.
TICKETS: Regular admission is $20 for adults, $10 for students. 812.855.1103 or theatre.indiana.edu.
For more production information and interview requests, please email Amy Osajima at email@example.com.